October 12 – Dia de la Raza, Descubrimiento de América, Columbus Day
As in the United States, Columbus Day commemorates the discovery of the Americas in 1492 by the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus.
Columbus Day commemorates when Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) landed on an island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. He was not the first person to discover the Americas but he established contact between Renaissance Europe and the indigenous peoples he encountered.
Photo on right:
A stamp printed in New Caledonia dedicated to discovery of America shows the ship the Pinta and the portrait of Christopher Columbus circa 1992.
The date Columbus arrived in the Americas is celebrated in many countries in Latin America. The most common name for the celebration in Spanish (including in some Latin American communities in the United States) is the Día de la Raza (“day of the race” or “day of the [Hispanic] people”), commemorating the first encounters of Europeans and Native Americans. The day was first celebrated in Argentina in 1917, Venezuela and Colombia in 1921, Chile in 1922, and Mexico in 1928. The day was also celebrated under this title in Spain until 1957, when it was changed to the Día de la Hispanidad (“Hispanity Day”), and in Venezuela until 2002, when it was changed to the Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance). Originally conceived of as a celebration of Hispanic influence in the Americas, as evidenced by the complementary celebrations in Spain and Latin America, Día de la Raza has come to be seen by some in Latin America as a counter to Columbus Day; a celebration of the resistance against the arrival of Europeans in the Americas and of the native races and cultures.
Like statutory holidays, these are observed nationally. But, unlike statutory holidays, it is not mandatory to provide employees with a paid day off or holiday pay.
Photo on right:
A stamp printed in Cuba dedicated to Latin American history shows three ships stopping at Canary Islands.